An update from Wales: Forthcoming new mental health strategy

Posted By: Amy Tubb

31st January 2024

  • Policy
  • Wales
  • Campaigning

2 minute read

Guest blog by Dr. Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher (Wales) / Uwch Ymchwilydd Polisi (Cymru), NSPCC

Developing the draft mental health strategy

Over the last year or so, Welsh Government have been working on developing a new mental health strategy, which will be the successor of ‘Together for Mental Health’, their previous 10-year strategy. Welsh Government has already been consulting on some of the visions and principles that are expected to underpin the strategy, the draft of which is expected to be published for consultation in early 2024.

What has the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) been doing?

To help influence this work, the MMHA has been working with the Wales Perinatal Mental Health Implementation Network, and NSPCC Cymru to identify key priorities for perinatal mental health (PMH) and parent-infant relationship (PIR) support for the next mental health strategy.

Bringing the community together

In April 2023, we co-hosted three in-person workshops across Wales with key stakeholders to inform this work. The findings and recommendations from these sessions were captured in a joint influencing paper, which was submitted to Welsh Government in October 2023.

Download the paper

Workshop findings

Workshop participants noted considerable progress in the provision of support for women and families affected by PMH and PIR difficulties in Wales over the last 10 years.

Key highlights include:

  • The development of some level of multidisciplinary specialist PMH teams in each area in Wales
  • The opening of the interim inpatient mother and baby unit in South Wales
  • An increased interest in developing PIR support
  • Public and professional understanding of PMH problems.

However, findings also highlighted that significant gaps remain which need to be addressed in the forthcoming mental health strategy, to meet the increasingly complex needs of families. Of key concern was the inequity of PMH and PIR service provision that remains for families across health boards.

Recommendations for Welsh Government's Mental Health Strategy

Based on the findings from the workshops, 10 policy and practice recommendations were developed for PMH and PIR support:

1. Sustainable funding for specialist PMH services to provide high quality and safe specialist inpatient and community care

2. Equitable PIR support available across Wales

3. MBU provision that meets the needs of all women and families across Wales

4. Commitment to ensure all parents and babies have equitable access to psychological interventions

5. Prioritise national PMH and PIR training

6. Commitment to develop and implement a national trauma pathway for the perinatal period

7. Raising awareness of PMH and PIRs

8. A consistent approach to investing in mild to moderate PMH support across Wales

9. Develop good practice guidance to support equity of access to services

10. Dedicated support for parents who have previously had children removed or are on the edge of care

    What's next?

    The consultation will be a key opportunity to influence and capture clear commitments to improve perinatal mental health care for women, babies and their families in Wales.

    As we eagerly await the launch of the draft consultation in early 2024, the MMHA will continue to work closely with key stakeholders across Wales to raise awareness of what is needed in the new mental health strategy to support all women and families affected by perinatal mental health problems. We need as many people as possible to engage with consultation once opened, and we will be encouraging members to use the recommendations from the paper.

    Follow the MMHA and NSPCC Cymru for updates on how you can get involved.

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